After I graduated College in 2010, I packed my bags and set sail to New York City. It was the moment I had dreamed of since I was a little girl. I knew that New York City’s hustle, bustle, and intensity would work in my favor. As the years picked up, I found myself moving every two years to different areas in Manhattan. First, it was Stuyvesant Town, located on 14th avenue and 1st avenue, then Upper East Side on 75th Street and 2nd Avenue, and lastly 60th and 3rd Avenue. The stress of each move and finding an apartment was rough. The only well-known site at the time was Craigslist. Even then, you had no idea who you were renting from, or if it was a viable lease and what the conditions were, the possibilities of something not going well were high. There were no reviews from prior tenants, so if you had no time to visit the place before moving, then you were stuck – SOL. However, Craigslist was the first marketplace to actually discover property rentals and still remains to be a digital platform people use to find apartments in different cities. Below is a quick snapshot of the rental site section. It is easy to navigate, listing an image with a brief description and contact information. Seamless right?
As the demand of rental properties has increased, there are more opportunities for companies to come in and create platforms that are easier to use, more trustworthy, safer and even qualify a roommate if you need one! Once Zillow acquired StreetEasy, it became a popular and much more preferred site to use over Craigslist. Look at these new sites and how aesthetically pleasing their layouts and designs are.
StreetEasyis New York City’s premier local real estate marketplace on mobile and web. It provides New Yorkers, and anyone shopping for real estate in NYC, accurate and comprehensive for-sale and for-rent listings from a plethora of real estate brokerages. It offers New York-specific information on buildings including access to a doorman or an elevator with proprietary data and useful search tools to help real estate or home shoppers navigate the complex real estate markets.
Next on the list is Naked Apartments. This site offers broker reviews and the option to search by fee or no fee apartments. The most useful features are the clearly-formatted listings and the option to receive daily e-mail notifications for listings that meet one’s criteria.
Zumper’s platform is clean and straightforward. Renters can search by neighborhood, price range, apartment size, and amenities. Its layout makes it seamless to see the latest listings, apartments with no broker’s fee and directly schedule a tour. The site has neighborhood reports and tracks rent trends across the city.
Triplemint prides itself on offering “off-market access” and “personalized service” for its rental listings. The website has a map feature that lets you know the listing availabilities within New York’s neighborhood. However, many featured listings will require you to sign up before you can see more details on the property – annoying!
What all these real estate sites have in common is the on-the-go option with both an iOS app and Android apps that allow the renter to go anywhere and find something at any time with their mobile device. The “on-the-go” iOS option has been a significant change to the industry and has allowed for quicker searches.
In conclusion, no one site or app is going to have all the rentals that are on the market, any more than a single broker would. The only option is to try all of these apps and make a decision.
On another thought, what if there was one rental app that was the umbrella for all major cities in the United States that featured every listing, every broker and all the information we needed to make the best decision?
The shift towards improving these digital rental sites has increased, but there is so much more that can be enhanced. What if they added video tours online so you can see the entire apartment live without going there physically? That is something that none of these sites have adapted yet. My hope with the revolution of AI implemented, data will be enhanced to support these video initiatives, and maybe even a person can have a personalized bot check out the apartment without you wasting time or leaving work early to see!
Calling all tech entrepreneurs to the mic! Here is your opportunity to be first in the market! What do you think? Do you think it is smart these sites are limited with listings or would you prefer to have access to every listing and broker? Why do you think the real estate rental market has been slow to adapt to emerging technologies and make larger strides in this area?